Guide: How to Spot Common Roofing Scams
A new roof is a significant financial commitment, and it's important for Colorado home and building owners to know how to spot roofing scams. Whether it be related to storm chasers, door-to-door sales tactics, improper roofing insurance, or unlicensed contractors, not all roofing contractors or companies are the same. Make sure to make an informed decision by taking your time and educating yourself on how to spot the most common roofing scams in Colorado.
Table of Contents
- What Are Roofing Scams
- Most Common Colorado Roofing Scams and How to Spot Them
- Storm Chasers
- Door-to-Door Scams
- Roofing Insurance Scams & Fraud
- Beware of Unlicensed Roofing Contractors
- How to Choose a Legitimate Contractor
What Are Roofing Scams?
When a severe storm hits in Colorado, whether it's large hail or even an extreme wind event, you can expect roofing company representatives to show up at your door to take a look at your roof. They’ll point out damage that they say is likely to be covered by your insurance, and then pressure you into filing a claim and signing a contract with them for the job. This is a roofing scam.
While there are many legitimate roofing businesses, there are many con artists in the roofing industry. That’s why it’s important to know how to spot a roofing scam when you see one.
In Colorado, there are a few roofing scams that are more common than others because of our unpredictable weather and harsh storms. At the Colorado Roofing Association, we want to make sure homeowners are educated on how to spot the most common roofing scams in Colorado: storm chasers, door-to-door scams, roofing insurance, and unlicensed roofing contractors.
Roofing Storm Chasers are contractors who only come to sell roofs after a storm or that chase storms in order to find homeowners who are afraid but haven't suffered any damage. These people do this in order to make a quick money at the expense of scaring home and business owners.
How to Recognize and Avoid Roofing Storm Chasers:
1. Check for Licensing and Insurance - Most Storm Chasers Don’t Have It
You can verify the roofer's license and insurance by contacting your local city/municipality building department, or local licensing board. Another way to confirm a contractor a insurance is by visiting Colorado's Department of Insurance Coverage. The Division has resources available online so you can verify if a contractor has a workers’ compensation insurance policy or if a contractor has filed their rejection of coverage forms.
You may also want to contact the insurer to confirm the policy in place if you are unsure about what coverage they offer, but make sure that this is done before any work begins!
2. Ask for Referrals - Most Storm Chasers Can’t Provide Them
Asking for referrals from people you know is one of the best ways to find a reliable roofer. If you know someone who has had a positive experience with a roofer, they will most likely gladly recommend them to you. A roofing scam artist will undoubtedly have no references or evaluations.
3. Get a Written Contract
When your home needs a new roof, it is important to get everything in writing. This will protect you from roof scam artists and potential problems that may arise—and note this doesn't need to be a pressured contract or sales pitch!
A reliable contractor will give you multiple options and time to make a well-informed decision. They should also offer answers to your questions so that you can make the best decision for you. If you feel pressured to sign a contract on-the-spot, this is a red flag.
For more information on roofing contractors read our blog, Tips To Avoid Getting Scammed by Roofing Storm Chasers.
4. Do Your Research
You should always get multiple bids from different roofers before committing to the first offer. Roof work is not just about repairing leaks and holes, it’s also an investment in your home!
5. Check Their License Plates
Another tip to ensure that the roofer is who they say, look at their license plate. Many storm chasers come from out of town so make sure it's not something strange or forged before opening up your home for them!
As of 2013, Colorado Roofing Association contractor members must have a local Colorado address.
Every spring, traveling con artists prey on elderly victims with door-to-door house repair, roofing, paving, and other scams, frightening them into paying thousands of dollars for low-quality and unneeded home repairs. Finding a qualified contractor is crucial since a poorly executed home renovation job can be extremely costly. However, hiring the wrong contractor can cost you more than money; it can cause delays, poor workmanship, and even legal issues.
For your roof, when a severe storm hits in Colorado, whether it's large hail or even an extreme wind event, you can expect roofing company representatives to show up at your door to take a look at your roof. Convenient? Not necessarily. Unfortunately, we live in a world where scammers take advantage of these natural disaster events and it falls on you to be cautious and vet these companies that come knocking on your door.
How to Recognize Door-to-Door Con Artists
- They peddle roofing, paving and other repair work door-to-door.
- They drive new pick-up trucks, often with out-of-state license plates.
- They prey on the elderly using friendly, but high-pressure tactics.
- They may say they have material left over from a previous job, or insist they did work for you or a neighbor before.
- They ask you to get the required building permits.
- They quote bargain prices but demand much more after the job is complete.
Don’t proceed without the contractor’s proof of workers' compensation and general liability insurance. Check with the insurance company to see if it’s still in force and if the contractor is endorsed for roofing work.
Be suspicious of those that are not 100% transparent about their level of protection.
It’s important to always ask for verification from the company’s insurance provider. It’s not good enough to see a printed document as this can be easily altered. Any reputable roofing contractor should be willing to have their insurance agent send documents to you directly, usually via email.
Verify the contractor’s workers' compensation coverage here.
In Colorado, the laws governing roofer licensing and registration can be complicated. Because there is no statewide license requirement in our state, if a contractor claims to have "approval" from your local city or county building department, you should demand proof before accepting any services offered on this matter.
Not all roofing contractors are trustworthy, and too many people have paid a high price for doing business with them.
What Might Happen If I Hire an Unlicensed Roofing Contractor?
If you do use an unlicensed, uninsured firm or individual, don’t be misled into believing that your homeowner’s or personal liability policy necessarily protects you. In many cases, you may be liable for suit.
A large number of home and building owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured contractors. If an employee of an unlicensed contractor is injured on your home or building, you may be responsible for his injuries or disabilities. In addition, you probably have no protection in the event damage is done to your property or the property of others by the roofer during the course of the work.
Often the end result of using an unlicensed contractor is a poorly installed or poorly designed roofing system. This is worse than no job at all, and may end up costing you more in the long run.
Another reason to avoid this type of contractor is if he does not pay the suppliers whose materials are used on your project, you may find a lien placed on your property even though you have paid for the work. Liens are legal claims against property by creditors that allow them to collect what they’re owed. This means you may end up paying for the same materials twice.
How to Recognize an Unlicensed Roofing Contractor
- Unlicensed contractors frequently knock on doors, claiming to have "just completed a job down the street."
- They might try to rush you by telling you that if you act now, you'll get a special deal.
- Unlicensed contractors either fail to obtain building permits or ask you to do so on their behalf. If you do, you accept full responsibility for the project, including their errors.
- If you see a license number in an advertisement with a different number of letters, numerals, and digits than the rest of the ads, it could be a fake.
- Be wary of contractors who only provide a post office box or a street address for a local motel. That could indicate that he has no roots in the community and intends to leave as soon as residents begin to complain.
- Unlicensed contractors frequently demand a large sum of money upfront. Avoid paying any money in advance. If you have to, keep it to a bare minimum.
When choosing a Coloroado roofing company or a roofing contractor, keep in mind that not all roofing contractors are the same. A new roof is a significant financial commitment. Make an informed decision by taking your time.
So, how can homeowners and building owners work to choose a legitimate contractor? We have a few tips from the Denver District Attorney that may help:
- BEWARE of contractors who use high-pressure or scare tactics to get you to make an immediate decision.
- DON’T do business with someone who comes to your door offering a deal because they say they have materials left over from another job.
- Ask for and verify the contractor’s license number (you can confirm with your city or county’s building department where the home or building resides that the license number was issued by them and is current).
- Get at least 3 written bids. DON’T always choose the lowest bidder – almost all complaints to the DA’s office are contractors with very low bids.
- Require the contractor to use a written contract that lists materials to be used, as well as charges and costs, and the completion date.
- Pay little or nothing in advance. Pay by credit card, not cash and keep all receipts so you can dispute charges later. Pay no more than 10% of the job’s total cost until the work is complete, then pay the balance only when you are satisfied, and the job has been approved by a building inspector.
- Ask the contractor to show you proof that he is bonded, carries liability insurance, and covers his workers with workers compensation insurance.
For more tips, check out, 7 Tips to Choosing a Legitimate Contractor.
Always remember, professional roofing contractors, are:
- Properly licensed
- Committed to high-quality work
- Ethical in their business dealings
- Established, proven and reliable
- Technically competent
- Willing to stand behind their work
- Committed to their industry
- Insured and committed to safety
- Trained and experienced
About the Colorado Roofing Association
The Colorado Roofing Association is a non-profit organization established in 1978. Our continued commitment is to promote the ethics, education, and image of the roofing industry throughout the State of Colorado.
With over 260 members statewide, the CRA has become one of the top trade associations in the western region and professionally represents a unified voice for the industry. Our membership includes roofing contractors, consultants, engineers, manufacturers, distributors, and associated professionals throughout Colorado’s roofing industry.
The Colorado Roofing Association’s goal is to help homeowners and commercial building owners and managers make informed decisions about replacing and maintaining their roof systems.